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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

CRUISING TO CORFU

Envoy is now at Santa Maria di Leuca, East Coast of Italy.

A dredger clearing mud from the Lefkas Canal


On our first night we anchored in Meganisi Island’s Port Atheni – a beautiful bay with clear water, picturesque surroundings and a beckoning taverna. Soon after we’d anchored a Greek fishing boat, about 9 metres long, came into the bay and her captain started shouting at us very loudly from about 50 metres away. We had no idea what he was trying to say and looked around for any fishing nets, or rocks or other possible problems, but seeing nothing we ignored him. In early evening we went ashore to the taverna for a beer, and as mostly happens the friendly proprietor introduced himself and spoke with us. When we recounted our experience with the fisherman and pointed out the boat in question he said, “Oh don’t worry, that fisherman’s quite crazy, just ignore him.”

Envoy anchored in Port Atheni with the taverna behind Port Atheni waterfront

While having a beer in a waterfront taverna in Preveza we noticed a British-crewed charter yacht backing into the quay, so Chris and I went over to assist with their stern lines. The skipper was using far too much throttle and the yacht’s transom was about to hit the rough concrete quay when Chris leaned forward to fend the yacht off. Then the skipper gave a big burst of forward throttle moving the yacht away from the quay. Chris was now over-balanced and to avoid falling in the water had to take a gigantic leap onto the yacht’s stern. There he stayed for about 20 minutes while the yacht berthed some distance away, leaving Diane and I joking that Chris had jumped ship after just a week.

Laurie and Chris enjoy a beer in Preveza after the incident with a charter yacht

Wending our way to Corfu Island’s Gouvia Marina to clear-out of Greece, we spent one night anchored at Parga and one at beautiful End Bay at Mourtos on the mainland.

Stunning Parga Bay where Envoy anchored viewed from hilltop castle ruins

Laurie in Chris in leafy glade among castle ruins

Laurie and Di enjoy cobbled lane in Parga

Colourful Venetian maisonette turned tourist shop

Recycled oil cans used as rustic pot plant holders - waste not want not!


We’d planned to spend two nights in Gouvia and then head to Albania, but on the morning of departure day Chris had a medical concern. In late February he had a serious case of appendicitis involving peritonitis, and thought a complication had arisen. This turned out to be a great test of the Greek medical system (and I write this at Chris’s suggestion). At midday we met with our agent, A1Yachting, who arranged an immediate appointment with a GP. The GP was highly professional, charged 40 Euros (about NZ$65) and concluded that Chris needed to see a specialist for tests. Chris saw the specialist late that same afternoon for a fee of 50 Euros (about NZ$65) and was asked to get a blood test the next morning, also costing 40 Euros. Chris received a full clearance from the specialist after he’d reviewed the blood tests leaving us all impressed with the speed, efficiency and cost of the system.
We waited another day in the marina for 30 knot winds to subside and then cruised about 15 miles to Sarande in southern Albania. There were only three boats at the quayside, and they told us they’d had a bad couple of nights with swell from the strong winds coming into the harbour, two of them having elected to abandon the quay and anchor off. All about Albania in next post.

TECHNICAL We’ve always had some intermittent starting problems with our Lugger main engine. There was a slight delay from turning the starter until starting, and occasionally the engine wouldn’t start with the first turn of the starter, but only on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th turn. During winter we had the starter motor and solenoid serviced, hoping to solve the problem, but it hasn’t. Chris and I used the multimeter to check the ignition switch and voltages to the starter motor and guessed the fault lay with the relay that powers the start solenoid. In Gouvia we had the mechanic, Leon, take a look at this, and he confirmed the problem lay with a big voltage drop, and installed a new relay with heavier wiring located closer to the solenoid. So far since then the Lugger has starting quicker and always first time. We also spoke with Leon about the genset, as its exhaust often leaves some very light oily residues on the surface of the water. The maker - Northern Lights, had already advised that 95% of the time this is caused by under-loading. The genset is rated 7.5 Kw, but most of the time we’re only running refrigeration drawing about 8 amps. Leon confirmed under-loading to be the issue, so in future unless we’re running the water maker (which requires about 30 amps) we’ll run the forward Aircon to increase the load.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

ENVOY STARTS 2014 CRUISE

This is a longer post than usual, as the last one was about three weeks ago – will be more regular from now. We returned from Scotland to Lefkas Marina late April where our close Kiwi friend, Chris O’Brien, joined us. We loved north-east Scotland and later will post a Blog about the fascinating Lossiemouth marina. We’ve since departed Lefkas en route to Corfu, where we’ll clear-out of Greece and head to Albania later this week. Apart from the fact that we haven’t been to Albania before, we need to take Envoy out of the EU once every 18 months to avoid hefty VAT (tax).
In Greece it’s not summery yet, with temperatures around 20dC, but for the last few days we have been swimming each morning and barbecuing at night.

Lefkas waterfront just minutes walk from the marina

Envoy at Lefkas Marina with winter storage cover

There’s a small library in the marina where cruisers also leave gear they no longer need for others to use

When we pulled Envoy out after nearly a year in the water the hull was clean but the props were fouled after 5 months non-use

Envoy hidden among a forest of masts on the hardstand - note security fence

On the hardstand it’s a constant climb up and down the ladder

From 1 May there’s a very noticeable increase in boating activity and this is when charters start in earnest. One day in the marina a nearby charter yacht left her berth but her skipper steered too close to Envoy and the yacht’s keel fouled our bow line. This brought the yacht to a rapid halt and the beam wind drove her sideways down onto Envoy’s bow. Fortunately for us Envoy’s point of contact was her large anchor, and the yacht’s crew had a big incentive to hold themselves clear. Shortly one of the marina’s sailors appeared in a workboat to tow the yacht clear with no harm done.

Charter yacht wind-driven onto Envoy’s bow

In Lefkas we paid 5 Euros (NZ$6.50) to have some shoes repaired at this interesting, ancient looking cobbler’s shop

TECHNICAL Apart from the previously mentioned failure of our Seapower 120V AC engine-driven generator there’s been no major issues. For the time being we’re going to use our genset to produce AC power for refrigeration while we weigh up different long term options (which might include staying with the genset). In the marina we tried running refrigeration using our 2500 watt inverter. The refrigeration system draws about 30 amps momentarily on startup, then 7 amps. It started and ran OK but our 60 amp battery charger, powered by shore power, couldn’t maintain sufficient charge. An option would be to run this inverter while charging with our 160 amp Lugger-driven Balmar alternator, but the inverter is a modified sine wave one, and there are some possible over-heating issues around powering induction electric motors with modified sine wave (as distinct from pure sine wave) inverters. The refrigerator manufacturer confirmed it might run a bit hotter, but didn’t think it to be a major issue, since the motor is seawater cooled. However I prefer to play safe at this point. Any expert comment welcome!
So, other technical events have been:
During winter we had some chaps made for our smaller RHIB. These are excellent for protection against U/V, abrasion and impact, and great to extend the life of your RHIB.

Envoy’s smaller RHIB with new chaps fitted

Envoy has a 6 person liferaft that hadn’t been tested for several years and we decided to get it inspected and re-certified. Bought in 1995 the liferaft failed the test due to some glued seams coming apart and being beyond repair – not bad for nearly 20 years though. As we’re only coastal cruising at present and carry two RHIBs we won’t replace it at this point.

New main rudder bearing

We tried to get our engine room fire extinguishing system re-certified. The inspector said that since it’s a Halon extinguisher, which is no longer allowed for environmental reasons, he can’t certify it. However he went on to say that Halon is very good technically and advised us to keep it. We’ll do that this year but in the longer term we’d feel happier with a system that can be checked and certified. Also the present system has an interlock so that if the extinguisher is faulty you can’t start the engine. I don’t like that idea and would like a system without that interlock. We’ve replaced two 1kg disposable extinguishers with two 2 kg serviceable ones - according to the same inspector, only extinguishers with metal nozzles (and not plastic) can be serviced. We also had our largest (6kg) portable dry powder extinguisher serviced.
Every three or four years we need to re-galvanize the anchor chain. This year we turned it end-for-end as half of the chain is in near perfect condition, while the other half isn’t too bad and will last another couple of seasons.
Envoy’s fuel system has a Walbro low pressure pump for pressurising the fuel system after filter changes. This has failed and been replaced with our on-board new spare.
Two portholes have been leaking in heavy spray so these were taken out, all old sealant removed, the adjacent hull areas dried out and then the portholes sealed back in place.
All engine mounts were inspected with the Lugger and genset found to be fine. The Yanmar mounts need replacing and this will be done during next winter.
The Lugger’s alternator bearings were found to be worn even though this was reconditioned a year ago. This time heavier duty bearing have been sourced and fitted, and a spare set stored away.
The Lugger’s prop shaft was disconnected from the gearbox flange to be checked, and new bolts and nuts fitted. Then the shaft was re-aligned using a laser,
We carry several cartridges of sealant (such as 3M 5200) aboard in case needed for emergency repairs. Recently we discivered that even unopened cartridges have a limited shelf life of 1-2 year, and to replace them is expensive. Also some sealants can’t be used in wet conditions (although I believe 5200 can). We’ve now gone to another emergency repair product called StayAfloat, which can be used underwater and has a longer shelf life.